SCHOOL / Education and recruitment, the “teacher profession” remains an open question

Following the meeting of the Council of Ministers on 21 April last year, Saturday 30 April, Decree No. 36, “Further urgent measures for the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr)” was passed.

The Decree, which provides for action on inconsistent measures, introduces in Articles 44, 45 and 46 rules on the initial and continuing training of upper secondary school teachers, on the improvement of teaching staff and on the simplification of teacher recruitment.

As the measures are a decree-law, the measures now begin their parliamentary path and will be subject to further change: for days, however, there has been no lack of criticism and distinction of the proposed measures (professional associations of teachers and leaders, trade unions, scholars and politicians).

The measures adopted for the school respond in the first instance to the practical need to facilitate the recruitment processes of teachers for the upper secondary school in order to allow the declared entry into the role of 70 thousand teachers by 2024; in this way, it is believed that the chronic shortage of qualified staff will be remedied, especially following the failure of the current general competition; error, on one level, due to the general structure of the selection and the type of tests proposed, on another due to the results, expressed as a percentage of successful candidates.

The provisions for training the decree, which is part of the measures planned by the NRP, are intended to launch part of the reform plan planned within the “mission” n. 4, “Education and research”, the implementation of which is a necessary condition for the acquisition of the enormous European resources allocated to Italy as part of the extraordinary economic recovery and resilience program.

In relation to the initiative “2.1 Recruitment of teachers”, the plan aims to achieve the goal “entry into force of the reform” (deadline: 30 June 2022) and the achievement of the aforementioned goal “70,000 teachers recruited under the new recruitment system” (achieved by 30 December 2024).

To better understand these technicalities, it is useful to keep in mind some elements of the European programmatic plan within which the decree is located, which benefit from the European resources of the Next Generation EU. These resources complement those already normally provided by the European Financial Framework (MFF) for the seven-year period 2021-2027.

As you know, the NGEu is an extraordinary and complementary instrument and is not financed by the contributions paid by the individual Member States, but by resources acquired from the financial market, at more favorable costs than those made available to the individual states and with a refund. period lasting until 2058. The amounts are allocated on the basis of specific policies and are divided into grants (non-repayable) and loans.

The main component of the NGEu is represented by the “Unit for Recovery and Resilience”, implemented through the “National Recovery and Resilience Plans”, to be completed in August 2026.

Just to get an idea of ​​the resources in place, it should be noted that the budget for the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 “has around € 1.074 billion available, the” Next Generation EU “750 billion and, within this is the resources of the “Unit for Recovery and Resilience” equal to 672.5 billion euros. The plan for Italy is the one with the largest resources: 191.5 billion euros (of which about 69 per grant and 123 on loans), to which are added approx. 30 billion euros in additional national resources for the NRP and a further 13 billion. resources from the “React Eu” instrument (a European initiative that allocates resources to be used by 2023 again in order to overcome the effects of the pandemic emergency).

It is therefore a huge injection of resources, which together claim to be composed within a unified and structured programmatic plan.

The allocations to the individual states are made on the basis of semi-annual installments, paid to the individual implementing countries, only after the verified achievement of “objectives” and “objectives” set out in the design phase.

The milestones (Italian translation from English “milestone”) are events that record the correct progress in the implementation of a project and are objectively verifiable. The objectives (from the English “target”) are measurable and verifiable quantitative results of an intervention, determined on the basis of indicators defined in advance.

In this regard, the approval of a reform constitutes a goal (or “milestone”), while a quantitative result (eg 70 thousand teachers employed by 31 December 2024) constitutes a goal (or “goal”).

The programmatic plan is divided into 6 “missions” and 16 “components”. The M4 mission “Education and Research” includes as component C1 “Improving skills and the right to study”, for which EUR 21 billion has been earmarked.

The components are in turn divided into “areas of action” and “measures”, and the latter may in turn include “reforms” or “investments”.

It should be noted that in relation to the distribution of resources (decree from Mef of 6 August 2021) among the various departments, the Ministry of Education is in fourth place for tasks, preceded only by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, by the Ecological Transformation and by the Department of Economic Development: Interventions to improve the education system are therefore considered to be central to the relaunch of our country’s post-pandemic strategy. It would be good if this river of resources were used efficiently and foresighted without waste.

But what does the decree on the reform of the employment of teachers really provide for? And what are the reasons that have provoked negative reactions from so many subjects?

Article 44 regulates the basic training of upper secondary school teachers, the procedures for obtaining qualifications and access to education.

The system has three elements:

– enables university courses;
– competitions broadcast annually for the purpose of admission to the role;
– training and trial period with final evaluation.

The teacher qualification is obtained through a university course, of a total of 60 points, which can be obtained during or after a university course, in addition to the merits that relate to one’s qualification. There is an internship period (of 20 points) and a final exam with written test and simulated lesson, to also test the candidates’ teaching ability. Teachers from primary and secondary schools are responsible for the guidance activities within the basic educations.

Those who have completed 3 years of service in the public school can participate directly in the competition and acquire the qualification, after passing the competition, after obtaining 30 university education points and having taken the qualifying test (note: this is not a transitional rule, as one first thought).

On a transitional basis, until 31 December 2024, those with a basic education of 30 university credits (instead of the planned 60) can enter the competition.

The decree then decides on the in-service training of teachers, the creation of the “National Higher Education Training School” and the creation of an in-service training system with incentives for teachers.

The continuous and structured implementation of continuing education initiatives, it is stated, aims to disseminate innovative teaching models in accordance with the objectives set out in Pnrr. The already mandatory training on digital skills and on critical and responsible use of digital tools (which will take place during working hours), a system of training and updating planned on a three-year basis will be introduced, which will give teachers skills in didactic planning with tools and innovative methods to be performed outside of duty. This education can be paid for by the schools if it is linked to an extension of the education offer, and can give teachers the opportunity to access a salary incentive (“one-time allowance”).

In order to find the necessary resources, the decree allows for a “rationalization of staff by law” (ie a reduction in places) from the school year 2026/27 until 2030/31, which will mainly affect the contingent attached to the strengthening . of training offers.

The “School of Higher Education” (the reform must be implemented by 31 December, due to loss of funding from the NRP) will be called upon to adopt guidelines for continuing education; it will also be tasked with accrediting and evaluating the structures that will deliver the courses and implementing a training plan for school leaders and ATA staff in the schools.

As expected, the measures have aroused different and critical reactions with more or less heated tones from many sides.

Following the issuance of the provision, some trade union representatives spoke out strongly against the planned rationalization of the workforce, which was to finance the incentive for education: a mobilization was announced which could also lead to a strike.

In relation to the establishment of the new recruitment system, the school leaders ‘association Andis, on the other hand, expressed a positive attitude and praised it as a means of dealing with the endemic problem of teachers’ precariousness.

NPC, the National Association of Principals, however, sees more light than shadows, and complains about the lack of creation of a middle management in the school, “the lack of attention to high professionalism and the anchoring of the improvement of teachers to training courses only”.

Giorgio Chiosso dubbed the provision with the formula “more quantity than quality”, and reiterated the scarce educational and professionalization value of the proposed courses.

Even the ADI, the association of Italian teachers and leaders, expresses “concern and disappointment at the ineffectiveness of the reforms”, deploring the lack of establishment of specific and structured university courses for teachers. In this way, ADI confirms, the ministry does not perceive teaching as a profession with specific training courses, professional standards, ethical rules, rigorous selection and professional bodies: As before, the category of teachers is actually assimilated with an “association of concept staff, rather than professionals “.

Even the former Deputy Secretary Gabriele Toccafondi, who is still part of the government majority, right from the sides of Subsidiary he expressed his concerns and highlighted the problems and open knots of the new system of basic training and recruitment of teachers.

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